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Star of the Month: Maureen O'Hara
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suppliedTitle,Sentimental Journey

Sentimental Journey

The title for Sentimental Journey (1946) may have capitalized on the song of the same name recorded by Les Brown and Doris Day, which had been the biggest hit of 1945, but it had very little to do with the plot of the film. Directed by Walter Lang, and with a screenplay by Samuel Hoffenstein and Elizabeth Reinhardt, and based on Nelia Gardner White's original story The Little Horse, Sentimental Journey is a sentimental story about actress Julie Beck (Maureen O'Hara), who learns that she only has a short time to live. Julie meets and adopts an orphan named Hitty (Connie Marshall), hoping she will keep her husband, Bill (John Payne), company after she's gone. Bill, however, is unable to cope with Julie's death and wants to send Hitty back to the orphanage. Also in the cast were William Bendix, Cedric Hardwicke and Mischa Auer.

Maureen O'Hara wrote in her autobiography that she was responsible for getting the film made. She found the script for Sentimental Journey and persuaded executive Lew Schreiber to green light the film, despite Schreiber's doubts that it would make money. Once production was over and the film was screened, it was a different story. "It was a rip-your-heart-out tearjerker that reduced my agents and the toughest brass at Fox to mush when they saw it. Lou Wasserman sobbed so loudly that he embarrassed himself. Audiences ate it up, Fox made a fortune, and I was hoping that critics might actually mention my performance for a change instead of focusing on my looks."

Sentimental Journey was a box office hit when it was released in March 1946, but not with everyone. Harvard University students voted it the Worst Film of All Time. The critics didn't go quite that far but most found it clich├ęd and emotionally manipulative. The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther, in one of his more colorful reviews, called it "utterly mawkish [...] a compound of hackneyed situations, maudlin dialogue and preposterously bad acting and is illogical all the way through. [...]Only William Bendix, who plays an amiable chump, gives a droll and refreshing representation of a person who might possibly exist." Buck Herzog of The Milwaukee Sentinel wrote "If all the tears shed during the unreeling of Sentimental Journey were poured on top of each other, you'd need hip boots to get out of the Palace Theater this week." However, it was the ticket-buying public that Fox was aiming for and the public loved it. So did John Payne and Maureen O'Hara, who both named it as a personal favorite. It proved to be a favorite with Maureen O'Hara fans as well. Aubrey Malone wrote in a biography of O'Hara, that when the actress traveled the world, "people would come up to her and sigh 'Oh, you were in my favorite movie.' She would be expecting them to say it was The Hunchback of Notre Dame [1939] or The Quiet Man [1952] or maybe How Green Was My Valley [1941] but they often named Sentimental Journey."

By Lorraine LoBianco

SOURCES:

Crowther, Bosley "The Screen; 'Sentimental Journey' Makes Debut at Roxy, with Maureen O'Hara, Cedric Hardwicke" The New York Times 7 Mar 46
Herzog, Buck "Reviews of New Shows" The Milwaukee Sentinel /I> 29 Mar 46
The Internet Movie Database
Malone, Aubrey Maureen O'Hara: The Biography
O'Hara, Maureen and Nicoletti, John 'Tis Herself: An Autobiography
Tyler, Don Music of the Postwar Era
VIEW TCMDb ENTRY

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